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Mirror's Edge is a "good" example of how too much realism can take away from the fun of an activity that should be fun: Parkour. The environments are a little "too" contrived, the story while good...
Interesting clean futuristic city look, has Zen-like moments as you chain moves together, story is interesting.
Too many interruptions trying to get the "flow" right, world feels empty, combat feels out of place with timing.
Mirror's Edge is a "good" example of how too much realism can take away from the fun of an activity that should be fun: Parkour. The environments are a little "too" contrived, the story while good is a little too forced in places, combat feels completely out of place, and the games tries to be a little too ambitious with its focus being on exploration with its constant 1st person dogma even when performing rolls.
= The Good =
The story was engaging enough for me to actually finish the game - it was half-decent. I was entertained. Maybe I had no expectations or was able to put all the hype aside.
The martial arts mini-boss battle with the white assassin was interesting to figure out how to beat. The hand-to-hand combat was neat *when* you were able to execute the timing.
I loved the artistic beautiful (over-saturated) world even if it was bordering on "bland" or "sterile." The main menu definitely has a very cool look to it. When you stop and considering all this is being rendered in real-time what was used to be pre-rendered as cut-scenes just 7 years ago it is amazing! The "visuals" of the game reminds me of originality of the pre-rendered cut-scenes of Privateer for some reason.
Music was awesome and fit the mood perfectly.
The game is literally a 3D puzzle game -- where do I go next? I enjoyed the last few levels of the game the best. Initial frustration turned to joy of figuring them out.
Yes, you can skip the cutscenes!
= The Bad =
Unfortunately, most of the time you have no clue how to actually get where you are supposed to go. Yes, I used the built-in hint to view. I still spent far too much time trying to figure out how the heck to get up there. Yes, this is a VERY fine line between spoon feeding the player and forcing him to solve difficult puzzles. While the overall level design was good, the individual specific environment hints of where to go next was terrible. The levels were for the most part, not intuitive. Which leads me to my next point...
I grok the point of the game. I really do. You pull off all these amazing moves in one zen flow of execution and it feels freaking fantastic! The hard reality of the situation: You spend 1 minute figuring out where to go next. You die. You figure out that jump / climb, then you get stuck again trying to figure out the next 'segment'. Repeat ad nasuem. This constant interruption on trying to figure out how to make your way from 'Start' to some vague 'Finish' location, TOTALLY breaks the flow of the game. Each time you die, you figure out a little more of the "path" you are supposed to take. Finally, after 20 deaths, you can "chain" all the movement together, it feels awesome to do all these "stunts", and you think "this game has potential!" Then you die, and you realize you are a new checkpoint and you get to do it all over again until the chapter is done. LOL.
Bad save-points. There was even one point where the save-point was BEFORE a cutscene, so when you died you had to skip it all the time. WTF? Place the dam save-point AFTER. If cut-scenes weren't skippable, this would of been a pretty major annoyance.
Ironically it was *too* easy to accidently skip the cutscenes. The first time I played I actually ended up skipping the cut scene when ending the first level because I didn't realize my direct action was over !
The world is BARREN. Aside from a few pedestrians you see down below on the street, you never see anybody "normal" in any of the offices or indoors aside from Police or a few people dependent on the plot. Even the inside offices were "too clean." Not even a secretary was around ???
The 1st person view of forcing you to jump or wall-jump makes the game more difficult then it needs to be. Seriously, who wants or needs a 1st person 360 camera spin while executing a squatting forward roll ?? BAD designer, no cookie for you.
The escapism is just too blatant with the invisible armor. You can take 3 or 4 direct bullet hits, but yet the same weapon kills a cop in 1 shot?? This total break of immersion is hard to put aside.
The intermissions used a cartoon look. It really didn't mesh with the game AT ALL.
= Conclusion =
You can "play" the entire game just by watching the Mahlo walkthroughs and save yourself the agony of repeatedly trying and failing and save yourself some money in the process.
= Bottom Line =
The story is good and has moments of potential. If you have nothing else to play, Mirror's Edge is on sale, and you like platform jumpers like Tomb Raider, then you might enjoy it.
Genre: 3D Platformer / Action Adventure / Puzzle
Platforms available on (alphabetical): PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Platform(s) reviewed: PC (Steam) and PS3
Bottom Line: Thumbs neutral! Play if you have nothing else to play.
About the author: Michael has shipped numerous games on DS, PC, PS1, PS2, PS3, and Wii working on almost every aspect of games from engine architecture (rendering,audio,UI), tool pipeline, game design, and art. He has been an avid gamer and programmer since the early 80's. His book "Fundamental Properties of Game Design" is forthcoming.